Several of the women associated with the Fashioning Circuits blog recently took their skills to the Design Your World Conference to teach young girls aged 10-12 how science can be fun. Specifically, with the coordination and leadership of Amy Pickup, we conducted a workshop about the LilyPad Arduino.
The computers were set up and ready to go when the 15 girls came in and we were ready to teach! Amy lead a great discussion on the history of the LilyPad Arduino, then showed a video with some example projects, and went over all of the elements and add-ons for the LilyPad. Then it was on to the brainstorming session.
Each of the volunteers took a group of 2-3 girls and helped them come up with ideas and ways to use the LilyPad to create new clothing designs or functionality. It was really interesting to see what their young minds came up with. Two themes that I picked up were dealing with fear of the dark, like a glowing teddy bear that turns off after a set amount of time, and creating fun gimmicks to wear at school, like a backpack that blinks your name. Other ideas included glasses that would make a sound or light up if you lost them, and socks that would tell you when they are stinky.
Finally, it was time to get down to business and start coding! Each group had a computer, a LilyPad, an LED, some alligator clips to make connections, and directions on how to make it work. We started with attaching the LilyPad to the computer and then moved on to basic circuit completion. It was great to see how fast these girls learned!